October 2, 2008

‘There Will Only Be Hardship If the Rescue Fails’

By Leonard Doyle

In Virginia's hurting suburbs, where every other house seems under threat of foreclosure, it is a short walk from Sam's Club to Starbucks, but long enough to uncover a seam of rage directed at America's political leaders.

The disgust was evident among those packing bags of Wal-Mart's cheapest groceries into cars they can no longer afford to drive in as carefree a fashion. The last thing these voters want to do is pay higher taxes to bail out high-rolling bankers. But after this week's stock collapse, people are coming around to the idea that there is no alternative.

"There will be only hardship for ordinary Americans if the rescue fails," Zain Qureshi, a college student, said over breakfast in the Wal-Mart cafe.

Outside Starbucks, Aziz Nayji, a Moroccan-American, had little faith that any bailout would make any difference to the ordinary man, but believed standing idle was even worse. "What we really need is some leadership to help us through this mess, and I'm counting on the right person being elected in a few weeks. That's got to be Obama."

Others were pleased the House of Representatives defied the White House, party leaders and both presidential candidates. Tom Tucker, a53-year-old shelf stacker, said he could barely afford to drive to work these days. "Look at the gas prices and look at the salaries of the fat cats on Wall Street. I'm so happy they told them no."

Over his double tall latte, Jay Cohen agreed. "Why should they bail out those Wall Street bandits?" he asked. "What is that going to do for the guy who cannot pay his mortgage, has bad credit and is about to be made homeless?"

This year, more than two million homes have been foreclosed on, and an estimated 605,000 people have lost their jobs. Gas and groceries are taking a heavy toll on American wallets, and as winter approaches there will be record heating bills. And out on Main Street, there is a sense of angry bewilderment.

"There's so much finger-pointing going on now, you would think nobody saw the crisis coming," said Donald Schramm, a 43-year-old beat cop.

"Of course they did, but they are treating us like fools." He was full of admonition for party politicking at this crucial time, criticising House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose speech was cited by Republicans as the reason people voted against the rescue. "If I want someone to sign me a check, then the last thing I would do is call them an idiot to their face," said Mr Schramm, an independent voter leaning towards John McCain.

(c) 2008 Independent, The; London (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.